Creating a game in 12 hours
At a work event known as a "hackathon" I teamed up with a talented python developer and we designed and built a playable game in 12 hours.
#Keeping it focussed
Time was short so we had to very quickly pick an idea that was both interesting and achievable given the time frame. From a handful of concepts we settled on something that came out of a quick sketch I drew of a person trying to think but being attacked by distractions and we committed to this concept for our game. I created as many design assets as I could given the limited time, and the developer started building the main game systems.
#Fleshing out the concept
The core concept was as follows:
- You are a brain trying to think
- Ideas and distractions randomly spawn in the play area
- Collecting an idea boosts your brain power
- Being hit by a distraction causes you brain power to deplete
- You can draw freehand lines in the play area to protect your brain from distractions
- The player's attention is split between collecting ideas and defending against distractions
With the core mechanics decided the developer could begin building while I fleshed out some other concepts and produced some assets for the developer to use. One approach I took was to write a player guide to explain our game to others. This helped keep us focussed and helped us demonstrate the concept even further.
I even worked on power buttons with cooldowns, even though I suspected we would not have time to implement these. It was important that I was able to show the plans for the full game even if our prototype was not quite complete.
#A playable game
The game was playable after 10 hours thanks to the hard work of my developer friend and it was surprisingly fun. We discussed some improvements and changes which were rapidly made and we bundled up our prototype to show to others. Here is a short video of the game in action.
We were both very proud of what we achieved in 12 hours and the game itself was actually fun albeit in a limited way and I could see real potential with the concept.
Overall this was probably the best result I've ever had from a hackathon or gamejam and was a very fun exercise. I do very much enjoy designing under pressure as it really helps with avoiding overthinking. Define some core concepts and stick to them. Design is much easier with a tight brief.